Collider co-founder: Why brands should look externally for innovation inspiration

To drive innovation internally brands need to look to existing startups, according to co-founder of start-up accelerator Collider, Rose Lewis, who will be speaking on the Tech Trailblazers stage at this year’s Festival of Marketing – focusing on innovation, startups and the technology landscape.


I’ve spent the past three years championing marketing and advertising tech startups to work with brands and agencies. As Collider turns three years old this month, we’ve come a long way in a short amount of time. Almost 30 startups have created meaningful relationships with over 20 brands and agencies sharing their knowledge, best practice and cash too.

We have to know who the right people within brands and agencies are to make this happen, and make sure there is meaningful dialogue and follow-up happening between the brands and startups. The people from within the brands must be willing to make time in their busy schedules to embrace innovation coming from outside the organisation. That’s the hard bit.

This isn’t a characteristic you find on a job description usually – but more of a personal one. A staff member who is empowered within the organisation and willing to take ownership of the risks of their decisions, one way or the other.

We’ve had brand partners at Collider where champions of innovation have come from HR, for example The National Lottery. They have countered internal struggles through innovation and working with startups and even introduced a secondment programme with Collider startups headlined under talent development.

Unilever have championed innovation through the Unilever Foundry, creating a measured framework for effectively integrating startups into the global Unilever organisation. The BBC have BBC Labs, where they work with select startups to get them on trials within a short timeframe. You’ll see similar, more programmes with branded accelerators – the likes of Microsoft, Barclays and William Hill to name a few, where startups predominantly work with that brand.

Collider brings together like-minded people from all the organisations we work with, providing a space for people to openly discuss opportunities and challenges across organisations. We find the people within organisations who see problems, and have to do something about it. This is how innovation penetrates a business and sometimes, senior management must look outside in order to move forward from within.

This year the Master of Marketing awards will be recognising innovation with a Grand Prix category for startup brand of the year. To find out more and to enter go to Deadline is 9 September.

Further information about the festival can be found by visiting the website, where you can also book tickets.

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